"You do see a pecking order start to fold itself out," McClendon said. "Everyone understands it's based off what I see out there on the field. You start to see how stuff plays itself out a little bit."
Samuel wowed coaches in Georgia's first scrimmage, racking up 108 yards on the ground on just five carries. His numbers in Saturday's scrimmage weren't quite as impressive, but he ran hard and the film showed clear progress.
"Right now, you can see Richard start to sort of take things on, and you do start to see him start to separate himself from other guys in the pack," McClendon said. "Now to say he's the clear-cut guy, maybe or maybe not. There's still a long time to see. We've still got three more weeks to go."
Samuel's primary competition figured to be sophomore Caleb King, but King has missed the past week of practice with a hamstring injury.
McClendon said he saw enough of King before the injury that the missed time hasn't set him back, and stressed that he didn't want any of the tailbacks to assume injuries were a key factor in how the depth chart takes shape.
While King may have fallen behind Samuel at this point, it may be even more important for him to stay ahead of redshirt freshman Carlton Thomas.
After an impressive spring, Thomas racked up 90 yards on six carries in Saturday's scrimmage. Although Thomas isn't an ideal size for the role of an every-down back, he has continued to show he belongs in the mix.
That puts a bit of pressure on King to come back strong, as McClendon said he doesn't anticipate more than two tailbacks seeing significant action in the early going.
"You're definitely looking for guys to solidify themselves in that top two just to get the quality reps," he said. "You need four guys because it's a long season, and those backs get hit on a lot, but as far as me saying we're going to play four guys, I just don't think that will be the case."